Proof of Creativity

Proof of Creativity

There’s something about creativity that begs to be seen. Show me your big idea, let me read your work, play me a song, hang up your art, watch that video project.

And then the masses, they can say, “how nice, how artistic, how talented” you are at that thing. Or, of course, there’s also the risk of a negative response, or even worse, no response or acknowledgement whatsoever, leaving that creativity vulnerable and alone in the world.

But one is never enough. You need a body and collection of work. It can never be stagnant or stale. You think you’re a writer? You call yourself a musician? You want to be a videographer? You consider yourself an actress? You say you’re an artist, a dancer, a dreamer, a poet? Prove it. 

Instead of the love and the passion and the drive that once compelled such creativity, you find hustle and exhaustion and burnout. A world that says, if you don’t keep churning out more you’ll be lost and left behind by all the ones ready to chew you up and take your spot.

It places all of your worth into what you produce or your results. You’re only as good as your latest project, and it better be something recent, otherwise, what have you been doing all this time?

And not only that, but where’s the self-promotion, the curated pieces, the shows and the gigs and the countless fans along the way?

For the average creative, or maybe just for me, it’s too much. The hustle and chase and sacrifice is too great. Maybe that means I’ll never make it or never have my name in lights. I’d like to hope instead that it means that my creativity and my sense of self will still stay intact.

May the thoughts and dreams that excite me stay possibilities and perhaps even one day realities, instead of drowned out by the noise and expectations to keep the same rapid pace of someone else. May my success be simply gratitude for the ability to create and connect with others, instead of an addiction to constant adoration and attention that can never quite be fulfilled. May I find moments for creativity and inspiration but not feel it is my only or greatest legacy.

That’s not to say that hard work, dedication, and motivation have no place here. All of these make their home here, just as I welcome space, grace, rest, and relationships. It’s about finding a balance and enjoyment instead of making chores out of the things I love.

So, for the last few months the blog has been quiet. This time I don’t think I’ll try to promise a revitalization coming soon but just let it happen as it happens. As for creative side projects, our music has been getting more of my energy and effort for the time being. At work, my writing and editing has continued. At home, we’ve chosen to listen to the need for rest when it comes, to celebrate weekend afternoons relaxing on the porch or rolling on the floor with our little one.

Does my work say something? Sure, sometimes. But more importantly, I’d like my life to speak louder. Not through fame or failures, but through my faith, family, and friendships.

 

Putting it into Perspective

Putting it into Perspective

There’s this thing that we use to shape our experiences and thoughts called perspective. It’s the vantage point from which we view life, our attitudes, and opinions. Perspective often helps us see beyond ourselves–to take in more information and look at the big picture or to be sensitive to small details that make a big impact.

But sometimes, we abuse that perspective. We compare bad situations to dire ones and suddenly feel like there is no need for help or improvement. We say things like, “Because this isn’t THAT, it’s fine” or “I’ve had worse” or “His situation is really bad, so I shouldn’t mind mine.”

While usually said with good intentions and can be stated a way to lessen the blow to some bad news or issue…it can also lead to a misrepresentation of the reality in a situation.

Do we need to cry over a stubbed toe like we would for cancer? No. Should we be grateful for what we have? Absolutely. But is there still room for growth and improvement and action? Most likely.

For example, my baby cries when his diaper needs changing (you’d think the world was ending by the way he shrieks, but no, it’s just wet). If I said to him, “Don’t you know you have such a good life and are well taken care of? Not all kids are as lucky as you!“–that would be true, but wouldn’t change the fact that his diaper is dirty and needs to be addressed. Looking only at the good but ignoring the immediate issue doesn’t actually solve anything. Instead, it diminishes his cries for help and perpetuates the problem.

Perhaps, there is reason to be upset or to seek improvement, and we need to be open to that. We need to have a self-awareness about what is happening so we can best address it. Maybe that means acknowledging a loss or celebrating a win. Saying things aren’t where they should be or could be at work or in a relationship. Admitting there are areas in life that need improvement, be it health, organization, motivation, or otherwise. Maybe it means being proactive in realizing that things are good now, but they aren’t to be taken for granted or assumed.

So to put it all in perspective, could things be worse? Sure. Could they be better? Perhaps. Either way, it’s worth being realistic about the present situation in order to best address it.

 

Thursday Three

Look at me…two weeks in a row of a Thursday Three. It’s almost like a trend or something.

1. Balance is key. We’ve practically been living in a season of survival the past few months. Only in the past week or two have we started to reintroduce exercising, playing music, and making space for individual creativity. So here I am, sitting in a coffee shop while writing my thoughts–totally baby-free. As a couple and as a family, we’re asking the question of how to find balance in our lives and somehow make it work for everybody. It requires some planning and some sacrifice, but it seems to be worth it in the end. If you have tips and systems that have worked well for you, I’d definitely be interested in hearing them.

2. My phone is overloaded with pictures of my kid. (So much for balance, eh?) I know I’m biased, but I think he’s pretty stinking cute. To be honest, I haven’t figured out what I think about sharing countless photos on the internet (of him or me, really). Maybe one here or there. Occasionally, I send some photos of him in a text to people I think might want to see the latest facial expression or outfit he’s rocking. Like everything, I’m overthinking it and questioning how much I want him to be all over the internet. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer, but I do think it’s worth considering what we are putting online and what the long-term impact might be. Ugh. The world is crazy and the future of the internet is a mystery to me. I know I can’t protect him from everything, but I do have some responsibility as a parent to look out for him and his well-being. So, please humor me while I think it over and know that the photos might be sparse in the meantime. (But what the heck? I can’t add a photo from my week without including him because he’s in ALL the photos…so here you go, a week’s worth all at once).

baby pics

3. We need each other. I’ve heard and read so many thoughts and feelings this past week regarding the election and the actions that have followed. Frankly, it’s hard to sort through it all. Last week, all I could say was that kindness was the first place I planned to start. I think the thing I’ve found to be true in it all is how much we need to support and love one another as a community, a city, a state, and a country. There’s so much that has already been said on the internet, and I don’t want to pretend I have something big or profound to add. I just think that at the bottom of it all, we each want love and support. We want someone to say, “I’m for you and I’m with you.” I think that means seeing a need amongst the people around you and filling it. It can mean showing up, even without being asked. It means prayer, money, food, time, and energy given to someone else or for someone else. As much as living in isolation or only surrounded by those who think and feel the exact same as we do sounds nice (and can have its place from time to time), the strength and mutual respect/understanding that can be gained by recognizing that we need each other is invaluable.

Finding the “ME” in Motherhood

Finding the “ME” in Motherhood

Say it with me, “m-m-m-other.”

While I may have graduated with a minor in English, I didn’t really study the origins of words and what they mean. But can we just stop for one minute and look at that? “Mother” is mostly made up of the word “other,” and that’s basically what it feels like.  

In the beginning of September, I entered into a new life that I’d like to go ahead and now call “otherhood” (but let’s be real, it really started the moment I got pregnant regardless of what the world says). My life revolves around another now. A little guy who just has constant needs. Then there’s the revolving door of guests and well-wishers, family, and oh yeah, my husband. All people I love and care about, but all others that need or want something from me.

Thankfully I’ve had a lot of supportive people around who have offered help, but a lot of times it still requires so much on my part, be it planning, packing, or pumping. Even now, I type this slowly between patting the back of the fussy infant lying on my chest.

Not long ago, my husband talked about his want to hold onto his individuality, and then said he hoped I could do the same. A simple, well-meaning comment but all I could respond with was, “I didn’t even have time to eat lunch today. How am I supposed to have time for individuality?”

 Needless to say, finding the balance between being selfish and saving a sense of self is difficult. Are children a blessing? Yes. Do I love my kid? Yes. Do I want to be a good mom? Yes. Do I want a vacation already? Yes.

I miss running to the grocery store for just one thing without it being a huge ordeal. I miss planning jam-packed trips to new places. I miss sleeping whenever I want for as long as I want. I miss accomplishing the one thing I set out to do in a given day. I miss not needing to know what time it is and calculating how much time before this baby next needs to eat/sleep. I miss writing whenever inspiration hits.

This isn’t one big list of complaints. I never knew how much one kid’s smile could change the entire feel of the day. Or how many stories I could possibly tell about poop. Or how hard I would fight for quality time with my husband, even if just for a ten minute conversation in the car.

It’s an honor to be a mom, but I’d be lying if I said I loved every minute of it. There are more moments than I care to admit that I wonder when I’ll feel like myself again or daydream of going and doing whatever I please.

I love my little family and am so grateful for them, but I think it’s okay to admit that the transition into motherhood is a lot to take on. That both holding onto who I was and embracing who I must become is a challenge. Finding the right balance between what I want and need while fulfilling my duties as a wife, mom, and friend is not always easy. These are worthwhile struggles though, ones I’m sure I’ll be wrestling with for the foreseeable future.

While the word “other” is prominent in “motherhood,” the word “me” is in there too once you piece it together. 

Thursday Three

Thursday Three

This is just going to have to be a whopper of a post because it has been SO LONG since I’ve written a Thursday Three. But let’s face it, I’m still too lazy to think up five things for a Friday Five. So, Thursday Three it is. Let’s catch up on the big things from the last few months, shall we?

1. We had a kid. A cute, kicking, crying, smiling kid is now under our constant care and responsibility. Poor thing. We’re two months in, and so far we all seem to love each other a whole lot. Granted, he loves his cloud mobile hanging over the changing table more than anything else in the world, but we like to pretend he is keen on us as well. We sure are smitten.

bunny mobile

2. We released an album. It’s perfectly normal to release your biggest creative endeavor the same month as having a baby, right? Hold the applause because the reality is, most of it was done months ago, but it was time to finally put on the finishing touches and send it out into the world. So we did. You (and your mom and whoever else is interested) are more than welcome to listen to it and even download it for free (or pay what you want…but mostly, we want people to hear it even more than we want them to pay for it). 

remember-me-album-cover

3. Kindness is key. In the past few months we have been the recipient of so much love and kindness, and I am incredibly grateful. My hope is to also spread kindness to those around me, whether in return for the kindness I’ve received or just out of love and grace. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to write something without responding to the election results and the feelings of everyone around me. There’s a lot going on, and it’s difficult to know what to do. But I think we all know how to be kind and can start there. That’s my plan at least.

It Is Time to Write Again

It Is Time to Write Again

After months of writing very little, the need to write has returned. But the time to write? Who has the time?

Admittedly, my time is limited. My last post shared the news of an expected addition to our family. In the time since then, our sweet baby boy arrived on the outside. For the past two months my brain and my efforts have been focused on three basic needs–eat, sleep, and clean (you know, cleaning all those messes babies make…because let me assure you, my house is far from clean). Blogging has been so far from my thoughts that I completely forgot my login password to get in here, which is simply ridiculous.

Yet, the need is there, and so the time has come to return to writing. The lack of writing has added one more change to an intense season of transition for me. I need to write. Even if no one reads it or knows what to do with my writing, it must continue in some form or fashion. I often think back to hearing blogger/author Seth Godin share on a podcast that he writes each day to speak truth in his life. For me, writing is often piecing together the lessons and questions in my life. Writing helps me to solidify those thoughts and feelings. Writing challenges me to dig deeper into what I think and to process what’s in front of me.

So much of the past few months and year has overwhelmed me. Writing about it felt daunting and vulnerable. Writing about anything else felt empty. I didn’t know what to tell people when they asked what I wrote about. My life? What I’m learning? During that time I drew inward and had less interest in sharing either of those things. I wasn’t ready for the questions or commentary. I didn’t feel the need to share some of my thoughts with the vast invisible public that is the internet.

So I continued to wrestle with what to write about. Should I find a topic that was easier to describe? A theme or a direction that would be easier to relate to? As time passed, I didn’t have an answer. Frankly, I still don’t know the answer or where to go from here. But maybe the lesson or thought of the day for me is that we don’t always have the answer…but we do need to keep moving forward.

 

Making it “Official”

Making it “Official”

In case you didn’t notice, we live in the times of the internet. We have a lot of information right at our fingertips and hardly even know what a day without instant access to all our social media sources is like.

News comes from posts and photos as people share the prominent or pretty parts of their lives with the rest of the “network”…because that’s just what we do. To avoid posting something requires almost a special request or reason to not include it online. Just like that, so much of our lives are shared and revealed to the masses.

I write and say random tidbits about my days, so I’m hardly any different. But I also try to think long and hard about what it is I’m saying and why. Do I share because I feel compelled to do so? Or because it would be useful to know? Or because I just had a really great hair day? So many thoughts and decisions on what’s best, especially in the past few months, have caused me to step back and withdraw from social media and even blogging for a bit. The problem is, eventually people think you’re hiding. And then you question what it is you’re hiding from and why? If you don’t share it online, are you embarrassed or overly secretive or just overthinking it?

This. This has been my constant cycle of thoughts recently as, quite frankly, we’ve found ourselves with some BIG news. News that can’t be summed up in one description or emoji. Unlike what our social media networks and text-based conversations would suggest, we can’t relate on the same level with people as we can face-to-face or in a one-on-one conversation. Simply giving something a heart or a star or a thumbs up doesn’t sit well with me anymore. I want to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Blasting a bit of news doesn’t allow me to do those things quite the way I’d like to.

But social media forces us share in abrupt snippets. Even if we don’t, eventually someone will leak the info online or a photo will surface, and we can’t “hide” from the news–be it good or bad. Let’s be honest, I don’t think most news is quite so simple as only good or bad. Sometimes there’s excitement and panic and confusion and pain and joy and whatever you had for lunch today mixed in all at once.

Our big news? We’re expecting. We’ve actually been expecting for several months now. Expecting to have a baby and become parents and find out just how much that completely changes our lives.

But you? I don’t know what’s going on with you or how you feel about that. Maybe you’re thrilled. Maybe that news hurts to hear. Maybe you wish it was you. Maybe you’re glad it’s not. Maybe you’re wondering why the heck it took so long for me to say something. Maybe you really don’t care. Whatever it is, I don’t get to experience what you’re experiencing on the other side of the screen here. Perhaps that’s for the best, but I feel I’d be remiss to ignore that my news causes something for you, too. To be honest, it causes more than one simple emotion for me as well.

We don’t know what we’re doing or where life will take us from here, but we’re expectant. Expecting that we’ll somehow figure it out together and also lean on trusted people around us. Expecting to be challenged in new ways and to learn a few things the hard way, no matter how much we try to best prepare. Expecting to walk alongside friends who are in the same stage of life as well as with those who aren’t. Expecting to make sacrifices and expecting to find new sources of joy and inspiration.

S+S on the steps-4952